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retina scans & DNA tests for returning fallujans

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2004/12/05/returning_fallujans_will_face_clampdown/?rss_id=Boston%20Globe%20--%20World%20News Returning Fallujans
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2004
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      http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2004/12/05/returning_fallujans_will_face_clampdown/?rss_id=Boston%20Globe%20--%20World%20News

      Returning Fallujans will face clampdown
      By Anne Barnard, Globe Staff �|� December 5, 2004
      FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The US military is drawing up plans
      to keep insurgents from regaining control of this
      battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find
      that the measures make Fallujah look more like a
      police state than the democracy they have been
      promised.

      Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to
      so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts
      of the city to compile a database of their identities
      through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would
      receive badges displaying their home addresses that
      they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them
      into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of
      suicide bombers, would be banned.

      Marine commanders working in unheated, war-damaged
      downtown buildings are hammering out the details of
      their paradoxical task: Bring back the 300,000
      residents in

      time for January elections without letting in
      insurgents, even though many Fallujans were among the
      fighters who ruled the city until the US assault drove
      them out in November, and many others cooperated with
      fighters out of conviction or fear.

      One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers
      would require all men to work, for pay, in
      military-style battalions. Depending on their skills,
      they would be assigned jobs in construction,
      waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.

      "You have to say, 'Here are the rules,' and you are
      firm and fair. That radiates stability," said
      Lieutenant Colonel Dave Bellon, intelligence officer
      for the First Regimental Combat Team, the Marine
      regiment that took the western half of Fallujah during
      the US assault and expects to be based downtown for
      some time.

      Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust
      from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had
      telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your
      needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah
      [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the
      dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to
      be the benevolent, dominant tribe.

      "They're never going to like us," he added, echoing
      other Marine commanders who cautioned against raising
      hopes that Fallujans would warmly welcome troops when
      they return to ruined houses and rubble-strewn
      streets. The goal, Bellon said, is "mutual respect."

      Most Fallujans have not heard about the US plans. But
      for some people in a city that has long opposed the
      occupation, any presence of the Americans, and the
      restrictions they bring, feels threatening.

      "When the insurgents were here, we felt safe," said
      Ammar Ahmed, 19, a biology student at Anbar
      University. "At least I could move freely in the city;
      now I cannot."

      US commanders and Iraqi leaders have declared their
      intention to make Fallujah a "model city," where they
      can maintain the security that has eluded them
      elsewhere. They also want to avoid a repeat -- on a
      smaller scale -- of what happened after the invasion
      of Iraq, when a quick US victory gave way to a
      disorganized reconstruction program thwarted by
      insurgent violence and intimidation.�

      To accomplish those goals, they think they will have
      to use coercive measures allowed under martial law
      imposed last month by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

      "It's the Iraqi interim government that's coming up
      with all these ideas," Major General Richard Natonski,
      who commanded the Fallujah assault and oversees its
      reconstruction, said of the plans for identity badges
      and work brigades.

      But US officers in Fallujah say that the Iraqi
      government's involvement has been less than hoped for,
      and that determining how to bring the city safely back
      to life falls largely on their shoulders.

      "I think our expectations have been too high for a
      nascent government to be perfectly organized" and
      ready for such a complex task, Colonel Mike Shupp, the
      regimental commander, said at his headquarters in
      downtown Fallujah.

      While one senior Marine said he fantasized last month
      that Allawi would ride a bulldozer into Fallujah, the
      prime minister has come no closer than the US military
      base outside the city.

      The Iraqi Interior Ministry has not delivered the
      1,200 police officers it had promised, although the
      Defense Ministry has provided troops on schedule, US
      officials said. Iraqi ministry officials have visited
      the city, but delegations have often failed to show
      up. US officials say that is partly out of fear of
      ongoing fighting that sends tank and machine-gun fire
      echoing through the streets.

      Meanwhile, the large-scale return of residents to a
      city where only Humvees and dogs travel freely will
      make military operations as well as reconstruction a
      lot harder. The military must start letting people in,
      one neighborhood at a time, within weeks if Fallujans
      are to register for national elections before the end
      of January. The government insists the elections will
      proceed as scheduled despite widespread violence.

      The Marines say several hundred civilians are hunkered
      down in houses or at a few mosques being used as
      humanitarian centers. In the western half of the city,
      civilians have not been allowed to move about
      unescorted. In the eastern half, controlled by another
      regiment, they were allowed out a few hours a day
      until men waving a white flag shot and killed two
      Marines.

      "The clock is ticking. Civilians are coming soon,"
      Lieutenant Colonel Leonard DiFrancisci told his men
      one recent evening as they warmed themselves by a
      kerosene heater in the ramshackle building they
      commandeered as a headquarters. "It's going to get a
      lot more difficult. We've had a little honeymoon
      period."

      A tall order If DiFrancisci's experience dealing with
      a small delegation of Iraqi aid workers is any
      indication, sorting out civilians from insurgents in
      large numbers will be overwhelming.

      One afternoon last week, DiFrancisci, a reservist from
      Melbourne, Fla., and a mechanical engineer, was
      ordered to escort workers from the Iraqi Red Crescent
      Society out of the city on their way back to Baghdad.
      The Red Crescent, an equivalent to the Red Cross, had
      been butting heads for days with Marines who initially
      denied the aid organization entry to the city,
      insisting the military was taking care of civilians'
      needs. The society finally won a Marine escort in and
      refused to leave, setting up in an abandoned house.�

      Dr. Said Hakki, the group's president, met DiFrancisci
      and Lieutenant Colonel Gary Montgomery at a mosque,
      eager to mend fences. "We want to play by your rules,"
      Hakki said.

      Montgomery agreed that Marines would ferry a group of
      aid workers to Baghdad, along with several women and
      children who had been rescued from houses. But when
      the Humvees pulled up to the Red Crescent house,
      scores of young men who had taken refuge there were
      milling around the streets. There was no way to tell
      whether they were fighters.

      "All these military-age males are out during curfew,"
      Montgomery told Hakki. "If you all don't follow the
      rules, you're going to get people killed."

      Tensions rose when about a dozen women and children
      started climbing into ambulances for the ride to
      Baghdad. One man tried to get in, gave the Marines who
      challenged him several versions of his age, then
      decided not to go rather than discuss it further.

      Suhad Molah, a young woman in a veil that showed only
      her eyes, was indignant that a translator said she
      might be Syrian because of her accent, implying she
      was the wife of a foreign fighter.

      "I am Iraqi," she said, adding that she and her
      children had been trapped in their house for weeks.

      The Marines were also suspicious when more than a
      dozen men, not the handful they expected, said they
      were Red Crescent staff members headed back to
      Baghdad. Some had no identification, and there was no
      way to verify whether they were the same men who had
      come out from Baghdad.

      "This is not a 'muj' rescue service," DiFrancisci
      said, using slang for mujahideen, or holy warriors.
      Montgomery remarked, "The real negotiations start
      after you've agreed on something."

      The Marines let the men go after Hakki vouched for
      them, but not before the Iraqis grew angry that their
      motives had been questioned. The convoy headed onto
      the highway, but only after a dozen Marines had spent
      two hours organizing and searching the vehicles. Back
      at their headquarters, the team debated the procedure
      for allowing civilians to return. Major Wade Weems
      warned that there should be a set number per day so
      that a backlog would not form behind the
      retina-scanning machine, fueling resentment.

      When they heard of the proposal to require men to
      work, some Marines were skeptical that an angry public
      would work effectively if coerced. Others said the
      plan was based on US tactics that worked in postwar
      Germany. DiFrancisci said he would wait for more
      details. "There's something to be said for a firm
      hand," he said.
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